Rick’s Tips: Changing Fortunes

Welcome to this week’s tips on MLK Day. Hope everybody is happy, safe, and at least a little reflective, while watching wave after wave of NBA action.

Time to hit the waiver wire, as we continue our relentless pursuit of the diamonds in the rough that change fantasy fortunes …

Shane Battier

With Dwyane Wade on the shelf due to a sprained ankle he called the worst he’s ever had, and with reports saying there is no timetable for his return, it may be time to take a long look at Shane Battier.

When Battier gets starter’s minutes, he typically hovers around double digits with two threes, a block, and a steal. He’s averaging 0.8 in each of those categories in just 22.4 minutes per game, so that tells me the fantasy gold will be there if he’s playing 28+ minutes.

I hope Wade can return yesterday, but with “caution” emerging as a major theme this season, it’s safe to assume he will miss some time — especially when you consider the additional foot injury that robbed him of playing time last week.

Byron Mullens

The artist formerly known as B.J. won’t block many shots for you, but a center who averages double figures is a commodity in most fantasy hoops formats.

Over the past four games, Mullens has dropped 15-21-18-20 with an average of seven boards. Only one block over that stretch is a bit of a buzzkill, but Mullens is a very good offensive center, shooting 49 percent from the field and 94 percent from the free throw line this season.

Mullens is vying to be the center of the future in Charlotte and he will get as much run as he can handle from here on out. If you already snatched him off waivers, enjoy the O and hope for more D.

Kawhi Leonard

The fantasy values of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Richard Jefferson are obviously up since Manu Ginobili went down, but Leonard may be the biggest fantasy beneficiary simply because he wasn’t fantasy relevant before Manu’s injury.

In case you haven’t seen Kawhi play yet, this dude can go!

Leonard has reached double figures in each of the last five games because he’s averaging 34.6 minutes and shooting the lights out (57-50-71). Best of all, he’s a block-steal guy as well, averaging 1.8 steals and 0.8 blocks over that stretch.

The Spurs love Leonard, who has been praised for his work ethic. Personally, I loved this trade on draft night because the Spurs needed to find their next shutdown swingman, a la Bruce Bowen. The fact that they traded a “Pop guy” like George Hill for Leonard should tell you all you need to know.

Mehmet Okur

When Okur missed games recently, most of the fantasy world turned its back on this former All-Star, who was dropped in both of my 12-team leagues. But I still think there’s decent value with Okur because you can count the number of true centers who bang threes on one hand.

After missing two games with a back injury, Okur had returned for three games heading into Monday’s tilt with the Clippers. In the past two games, Okur has averaged 35 minutes, 10 points, seven rebounds, one steal, and one block. The deep ball isn’t all the way there yet, as Okur made one-of-10 threes in the last two games, but you gotta love all those attempts.

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